Last season, District B-1 experienced unprecedented dominance in eight-man football. Each of the four semifinalists came out of the district, with Garber beating Canton and Laverne beating Ringwood in the semifinals, and Garber beating Laverne 30-26 in the title game. While the district’s coaches say it’s an unlikely occurrence once — much less experiencing a semifinals sweep for a second time — they say it could happen again. "It’s going to be very comparable to what it was last year,” Pond Creek-Hunter’s David Kerr said. "This is still a really tough district.”Kerr’s Panthers didn’t even make the playoffs last year, but another of the district’s coaches said they were no doubt a top 10 team in the class. "You don’t want to upset any fellow coaches in other districts, but we’re setting up to make another really good run,” Garber’s Mark Harmon said. "I know Depew and Porter have some great players coming back, and Weleetka should be pretty good, but I really think three of the top five teams in the class come out of this district.”
Feeling left outGarber, Laverne and Canton have the majority of their players back from playoff runs. Ringwood, though, is in a completely different situation. The Red Devils were 9-4 last year but return just one starter — defensive end/guard Matt Evans. "We’re hurting pretty bad,” coach Doug Seely said. "We’ve got a chance to contend for that four spot, but we’ve lost a great class.” Evans has been an all-district defensive end since he was a freshman, but needs likely will force him to linebacker. On offense, there’s a good chance he’ll see time at running back. Evans has spent time this summer working out with the five former Ringwood players from last year’s team who will play college football this year.
Vencl bigger key for WolverinesLast season, Garber’s Hayden Vencl had good numbers for a tight end — 398 yards and four TDs. He’s expected to play an even bigger role. "We’re probably going to throw to him more,” Harmon said. "We think he’s one of the best tight ends in the state.” Harmon has seen his share of them, including Brady Bond, who now plays for Oklahoma State. But Bond was more of a blocking tight end. Vencl is there to catch passes. Harmon even said Vencl, who was also a standout on the Red Devils’ state finalist basketball team, would at least occasionally move out to split end. And he’s pretty good on defense, too. "He’s probably as good of a defensive end as he is a tight end,” Harmon said. "It’s just people think of him as a tight end.” By Ryan Aber